The iFanboy Letter Column – 04/17/2009

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means it’s time to start binge drinking until the cold light of reality smacks them in the face about about 5AM Monday. For others, Friday is the day when you crawl inside a bottle to die.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming —


What ever happened to baby Jim?

Jim Gordon’s son seems to have disappeared. We saw him as an infant in Year One. We saw him getting shipped away from an abusive poppa Jim in the graphic novel, Night Cries. We saw him assume the mantle of The Bat in Digital Justice… but those were all 20 years ago. Does Jim Gordon still have a son? Does Barbara have a brother? Has he been written out of continuity or are there appearances I don’t know about? Please help with some info on this potentially untapped goldmine of stories!

Russ from Brooklyn, NY (and Park School of Communications, ’97)

Blimey, I’m well and truly stumped.

The only time I’ve ever seen Baby James Gordon Jr. was in Batman: Year One. Seeing as all of the appearances you have listed happened around the same time I am going to assume that Baby James Gordon Jr. was a Frank Miller construct (100% speculation) that was briefly introduced into continuity and then quickly shuffled off stage in a flurry of “nothin’ to see here, folks!”

It’s probably for the best, I think Barbara works better as an only child.  She’s tough and smart and independent and that makes more sense if she’s the only child of a loving father who, nevertheless, wasn’t around much because of his job.

But, turnabout is fair play and Baby James Gordon Jr. got a lot of face time in The Dark Knight film while Barbara received nary a namecheck.

Which was lame.

But whatever.

I like to imagine that Baby James Gordon Jr. is hanging out somewhere in the fictional ether with Chuck Cunningham.

Conor Kilpatrick (Park School of Communications, ’99)


Great podcast! I always enjoy the various opinions being tossed around. One interesting thing I find is that Ron liked Exiles #1 for the same reason I hated it. Maybe I’m just a jerk, but he said it was exactly the same as the original series, and I agree totally (as I said on my own podcast *AHEM*  Sorry.). But it was just a re-tread with a few different characters who we don’t know yet, so we don’t really care about them yet. If Marvel was going to bring back the series, they should have brought back the characters we already were familiar with, as well. This is just the same old, same old. The concept of any book will only take you so far. What drives a good book is the characters. A perfect example is Alias, I think.

Anyway, not to rant on Exiles, but I think it’s just interesting to agree and disagree at the same time. What a world!


Thanks for weighing in on Exiles, Matt, but I’m sorry to hear that you’re not excited as much as I am about the book. I completely hear you on the idea that a concept can only get a book so far, and it’s the characters, and the story I would add, that makes a comic book special and worth reading. But in this particular case, I think you’re being a little short sighted.

Now admittedly I stopped reading the original Exiles series a few years ago, so maybe I missed some fantastic storytelling and connections with characters. But given that literally no one was talking about that book (at least to me) for years is telling. Did you really feel that strong of a connection to those characters to truly care about them? To me, the characters in Exiles were swapping in and out so quickly, I found it hard to establish a connection, like I had earlier in the series to the core team. Additionally, how can judge these new characters after one issue? Of course you didn’t care about them yet, because you just met them. But we have no idea where Jeff Parker plans to take these characters and I think that the concept of the book is one that puts characters in a challenging position to get started. It’s literally the top of the 1st inning.

I was elated to hear Jeff Parker explain his point of the view towards Exiles when we talked in Seattle (*AHEM* our Emerald City Comic Con show), that this series works best when there’s a mystery involved, when you don’t really know what is going on or why, and compared it to Lost. Additionally the take on putting characters together in a team and making them find a way to work together was a refreshingly realistic take on a team dynamic. Trust me, I know what it’s like to be loyal to characters and a book and to dislike change, but in this case, I would say to hang in there at least for this opening story arc, you never know, you might like it.

Ron Richards

Have you ever had to break-up with a comic store? I’ve been buying my comics online for years and just recently decided to buy from my local comic shop. I found one that’s 10 minutes away from my house and it’s very convenient for me to go to after work. When I went there on Monday, I met the owner who was really nice. The store was a bit cluttered, but I didn’t mind. I just wanted a store where I can get my weekly fix. All the comics were bagged and boarded and the owner provided a generous discount (20%). The only caveat is that I have to become a subscriber for the discount. So I gave him my pull-list and my contact information and patiently waited for Wednesday for my books to arrive.

When I went to the store on comic book day, the place was filled with gamers playing their card games. The customers were the stereotypical comic book geeks which freaked me out. There’s nothing negative about being a comic book geek because I’m one myself. But I find it annoying when complete strangers approach me and talk about comics. This man in the shop (who appears to be a regular) kept rambling about the books he love and saying how great the new issue of Spider-Man was. I smiled politely and listened to him rave for 10 minutes at the same time trying to keep my distance from him. After I got my comics, I dashed to the door and was relieved that I was out of the store.

Here lies my dilemma. Since I gave the owner my pull list and special-ordered some indie books from Previews, I feel obligated to shop there. The discount’s great and the owner is nice, but if I have to deal with his customers in a weekly basis it would drive me crazy and ruin my comic shopping experience! To me it feels like I’m dating some new, unattractive girl who I feel guilty breaking up with because she’s super nice. She just happens to have annoying friends hanging around her all the time. What should I do? Should I drop the store like a hot potato or should break up with the store gently and leave gradually? For example, shop there for 6 months to a year and later come up with an “It’s not you it’s me speech” like “I’m moving to another city” or “I lost my job and can’t afford comics anymore.”

Xander from California

Those of us lucky enough to have a choice in comic shops have probably had similar experiences. But also, remember that you are lucky enough to have options. For a lot of people, their communities can only support one comic shop, and they’re stuck with what they’ve got. That’s just a bit of perspective for you.

On the matter at hand, I absolutely know what you’re talking about. I had a similar experience when I lived in California. There was a shop I went to check out one day, and it was a good place. The owner was a nice, exuberant guy. They offered a 20% discount, also with the proviso that I become a subscriber. Since I didn’t plan on stopping reading comics any time soon, it seemed like a good deal. The place I had been going prior to that had no discount, and in my case, that’s a lot of pesos at the end of the day to be saving. Yes, there were gamers, and the typical comic store nerds, but that didn’t bother me so much.

(On that score, I’d say you might want to loosen up a bit. Remember the folks engaging you are just trying to be friendly, in whatever socially awkward way they know how. It’s only for a few minutes, and all they really want is for you to nod and agree with them. Alternately, you can always act like you’re in a rush, and keep looking back at the door like someone’s waiting for you in the parking lot. A side benefit is that they’ll either think you’re a meth addict or incredibly successful in business.)

Anyway, it turned out that after a while, the shop was just too far away, when I had places that were just as good, and much closer. Gas started going way up in price, and the traffic seemed to be getting worse. It was an hour and a half round trip to the comic shop during rush hour on a Wednesday, and I started picking up my books only on weeks where I had to write Pick of the Week. Then we started doing the show, and that necessitated that I show up every week, and it was just draining. I had the same deal where he’d ordered all my stuff three months forward, so I had to finish out the term. I put it off for a couple months, but eventually I had to just tell him. Don’t forget it’s a business, and the dude might be a nice guy, but you’ve gotta do what works for you. It’s not like he’s a lifelong friend and you owe him anything. You entered into a relationship, and you want to change it. Just rip the bandaid off, I say. But at the same time, other than the odd conversation, it sounds like a pretty sweet deal, and I don’t know if I’d be so quick to change, especially without looking into the other options. You jumped into this one pretty quick without doing a full survey of the situation. In essence, you slept with her on the first date, and now you feel like you’re on the way to meet her parents. But unlike a girlfriend, you will still need a place to get books. Good luck.

Josh Flanagan


  1. Marvel offers 45%-60% off their comics when you subscribe at  I’m sure DC offers something similar.  But 20% sounds good for independent books.  You should just go in on Thursday and pick them up.  There will be alot less people.  Nothing wrong in waiting 1 day.  If you don’t like people, definitely don’t go on Wednesday.

    Jim Gordon’s son was pretty cool in the movie, right?  Was that a good thing, or bad thing for Batman fans that he got so much screen time?  I’m a casual fan, and I thought it was cool.  And should he come out more in the comics now since he was in the best known Batman movie?

  2. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Both Chuck Cunninghams.  Playing HORSE.  

  3. Since Xander, doesn’t that mean he can go on thrursday and get his comics.

  4. epic typo fail

    Xander has a pull list


  5. I just believe that there is some bar where all the forgoten or dead characters go to hang out. 

  6. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @yamiangie – The House of Mystery?  

  7. I think Fonzie killed Chuck Cunningham in a time travel paradox.  Probably happened during this series:

     @yamiangie – I always picture it kinda like how Grant Morrison had it near the end of his "Animal Man" run.  That’s more like limbo than a bar, so I’m probably not thinking of the same thing you are.

  8. Reading Xander’s letter I have a feeling that I’m one of those comic geeks who likes to talk to people at comics shops (and unbeknownest to me, maybe annoy the shite out of them). I go to a private school in Ireland where either narrow minded ass clowns wouldn’t read a comic to save their arses or I can give some of my friends the walking dead but otherwise they wouldn’t really read much. So when I go to a comic shop instead of the graphic novel section of a bookshop or something I like to talk to the dude at the counter. Unfortunately I allienated at LEAASST one member of the shop I go to because I talked a lot

  9. Is the card game a regular Wednesday thing?  Maybe the store wouldn’t be so packed every Wednesday. Also, you could spend 15 extra minutse at work and avoid people that way when you go to get your books.

  10. I always go early for my comics on wednesdays (or thursdays) cause of one thing…..the ‘Warhammer’ crowd. No offense to my comic shop owner or to the people or are into those type of card games….but I’ve seen those guys at work (or at play I mean) and I dont wanna be part of my LCS when those games happen.

    Now if it’s Axis and Allies….that’s a different story.

  11. I’ve been going to the same shop in New Jersey for almost 9 years now, I’ve had a pull list for 8 years. While I’m away to get my MA (and when I was gone for my BA) they maintained my pull list and kept a few books there out of loyalty to the shop. (Mostly my Vertigo and X-Titles, stuff I don’t have a pressing need to read.) For the past five years that I’ve lived in NYC, I’ve mainly gone to Midtown Comics. I don’t have a pull list, but I do have their discount account, so it works out. (It’s essentially 20% off.) Anyway, I’ve never had an instance of someone coming up to me in either store to discuss comics, that I didn’t know. It just never happened. Now, maybe someone as asked me for help in finding something or if "Such and Such #X came out" but it was never more than a minute long interaction. So to hear that it’s common for comic fans to randomly talk to each other stores is pretty interesting, because I’ve never seen it happen.

    Indeed, I’ve never had a prolonged conversation about comics with my LCS owners. In NJ, I either talk about college sports with the owner or he asks about my family and I his. (I worked there for one summer so they know me & my family) or I have idle chit-chat with a few of the employees at Midtown, several of whom know me by name (which is surprising for a store with such a vast clientele).

    Though, to be far, I’ve never gone to a comic book store that doubled as a gaming store, so perhaps I don’t have the same experiences.

  12. The big comic shops in the city like Midtown or JHU are sort of anomalies compared to what most comic shops are like in the rest of the country though. 

  13. @josh Yeah, that’s what I’m assuming. Even the store I go to in NJ is considered the "Second Largest" in the state. I’m not sure who gave them that title, but I do know they have a lot of customers and they make a ton of money for a small shop.

    Maybe I need to investigate more little shops? 

  14. I think Chuck Cunningham is now dating Celia’s oldest daughter from "Weeds". 

  15. I could have swarn I saw Jim Gordan Jr in Superman Beyond in one of those background shots in Limbo.

  16. Isn’t Barbara Gordon actually Jim’s niece he adopted, or something weird like that?

  17. @BrianBaer – I vaugely remember that being the case.  However, that may have been a pre-Crisis idea back when Barbara was a Congresswoman.  I’m not sure either.

  18. @Nate – She came back at the end of last season! But I liked it better when they dropped her and never spoke of it again, like Moira Kelly on West Wing.

  19. @Kickass  DO NOT order from Marvel.  The comics are always late and their customer service is horrible.  I have been trying to get a response to my e-mails for months.  I was signed up for Captain America and they decided that meant I wanted to have all of the "Fallen Son" titles also.  They are bad news.

  20. Hey, Xander I’m curious about which shop you’re talking about. Would it happen to be located in Fremont? 

  21. My local comic book is totally full of comic geeks arguing about Batman or Spiderman each week. I don’t mind, but the manager is pleasant and always apologises to me. Today, they were arguing about whether or not Norman & Harry Osborn have cornbraids or curly hair. They got very heated about it!

  22. Woops, I mean to say Newark, not Fremont. But near Fremont. 

  23. About the last letter. I find that to get to know the people that annoy me takes the edge off. I go all Dale Carnegie on them.

  24. @Xander, yeah I’d suggest just going on Thursday, or at a different time on Wednesday when there’s less traffic in the shop. It sounds mean, but I have to agree with how annoying the gamer crowd can be–especially when one of your two "local" (within two hours of driving!) shops is so cramped that you can’t look for back issues if the gamers are gaming in front of the back issue boxes… Sometimes there’s really no rhyme or reason as to when the big crowds are in the shops, though; you just have to have a little intervention with the part of your brain that can be annoyed by other people, and just tell yourself that it’s worth it if you want comics right there and then for that price. As annoying as it CAN be to interact with people you don’t want to have anything to do with or overhear idiotic conversations you feel stupider for having heard, it’s really not that bad. Unless you’re a real finicky guy, I can’t believe that having to "deal" with relatively the normal stuff that you’d expect to be going on in a comic shop would be enough for you to chuck the whole deal and go back to a system where you’re waiting weeks and paying more for the same comics.

  25. @miyamotofreak.  This is Xander and yes the store is located at Newark (Fremont area).  What I’m doing right now is visiting a GOOD comic shop on Wednesdays and grabbing the books that I know are not in my pull-list or books that are recommended by the iFan-base that I’m not aware of, such as the Irredeamable or GI-Joe: Cobra.  Those Indy books sell out quickly.  Then on Thurs or Fri, I would pick my books from that other store to get my discount.  With all the time and gas wasted visiting 2 stores every week, it makes me wonder how much I’m really saving at a weekly basis.

    @Josh.  Thanks for your input and for including my letter in your letter column.  I was curious how other fans would deal with my situation.  Your experience at your store was similar to mine.

    @ Neb.  These guys play games ALL the time!

  26. Like miyamotofreak, I’m also curious what part of California Xander is talking about.


    I personally feel pretty lucky and spoiled to live in the SF Bay Area and have so many great comic book shops to choose from. I used to feel a little guilty about it, like I was "cheating" on whichever one was my local store at the time when I would patronize any of the others, but now I don’t feel bad about it at all and am just grateful to live in an area with so many awesome stores.

  27. Asked and answered.

  28. @kenkneisel:  I agree that there’s a few good stores in the SF Bay Area.  But these stores don’t offer any discount.  I usually buy 5-6 books a week and my trades/collectibles @ DCBS.  Ever since I started listening to this podcast, my weekly books went up to 10-12 a week and I buy even more trades!  Love the iFanboy podcast, but hate buying so many books! 

    I just wish those good stores would offer some discount to the loyal customers who spend close to $150 a month.  (more with the price and sales tax increase) 

  29. @chinochang: That’s a good point. I guess I don’t really buy that many books anymore, although I’m friends with a couple local retailers who are nice enough to hook me up with "friend of the store" discounts sometimes.


    Have you ever been to the Isotope in SF or Comic Relief in Berkeley? Those are the two I probably frequent most often these days.

  30. Right now I am trying  to find the place to go regularly in San Francisco. Surprisingly and to my delight, there are plenty of comic book stores. However, I find it that the big city stores aren’t as complete as the small ones 20 miles down south. For example one store has lots of back issues and no trades; another has very little trades, a few back issues, but lots of hot hipstery ladies go there; yet another has issues and trades but rude owner & nice worker … and so on … what to do? what to do?

  31. @AmirCat: It’s funny, I think I know which shops you’re describing. Hot hipstery ladies would be Isotope, right? LOL


    In SF I would recommend Isotope, Comix Experience and Al’s Comics, all of which are not too far from each other in roughly the center of the city. I’ve heard Comic Outpost is also good although I don’t think I’ve ever actually been there.


    And make sure to hit up the Isotope parties.

  32. @kenkneisel.  I really want to go to Isotope and will one day make a trip there.  It won’t be my regular store (since I live near Fremont and they’re located in SF) but I’ve been hearing great things about them from iFanboy.

  33. @chinochang: I know Geoff Johns will be at Isotope for a Blackest Night launch party on Saturday July 18th so that would be a good opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. 🙂

  34. I was stumped by that James Gordon Jr. question, too. I dug around a little on the internet, and it seems as though what happened was that Gordon divorced and the wife took custody of the son. Convenient way to write him out of the series.

    Also curious: Has there been a change to continuity, or is Barbara still technically Gordon’s niece?

  35. As far as I know she’s still his niece who Gordon legally adopted.

  36. OK, that’s what I thought. You just never know in these days of crises and superboy punches. 😉

  37. @ Xander…Um lighten up? One day some guy wants to sound off on agood experience and your not interested  just nod say "yea" (or no hablo ingles) and walk away…..People are everywhere & being in NYC I’ve learned to "live and let live" 

    At my LCS I may have jumped into a conversation or two(not directed at me) but just in the act of comraderie

    Give the girl one more try and keep an open mind. Here’s GOOD Practice: TAke a package to the post office and wait on line,you’re sure to be involved in several unwarranted interactions and you’ll be fine 

  38. Huh, didn’t know there were so many fellow Bay Area residents on here. While Comic Relief (Berkeley) is my main LCS, if any of you ever find yourself in San Jose you should check out Hijinx Comics. I almost wish I lived in San Jose so it could be my regular LCS…the owner is always really nice when I go in there and his shop is well-stocked. Not sure what kind of subscription service he offers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a good one. Bay Area comic shops that offer a pull service AND discount seem to be the exception rather than the norm, though.

  39. my 2 cents: this whole thing where you need to hang around your comic book store and make friends is a little weird. Just rock up, buy your books and leave if you don’t want to chat about spider-man’s pubes or whatever. It’s not like you would talk to the store owner and other customers in the GAP about the stitching in your jeans, is it?

     on the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with having a chat to someone in the store. just be aware of the other dude, if he/she looks like he/she doesn’t want to hear your thoughts on Batman don’t press the matter.

    i have never had any problems in a comic store.

  40. @edward: I dont know if the first thought in my head to talk about ‘spider-man pubes’ to someone at my LCS….but I’ll take note of not discussing it 🙂

    I feel weird if I dont talk to my LCS owner or at least someone before I go. Getting a good friendship out of the owner is probably a boon in the long run. I get so many free stuff (i.e. posters or toys no one wants) from him. He’s been asking me for 3 weeks now if I want his FCBD issues that he got.

  41. @xander from california……….you wish you were dating an un-atractive girl….BLAST!!

  42. @Xander: Just wear your headphones and turn up so loud that you can’t pay attention to what’s going on anyway.  That’s what I do. LOL

  43. @robbydzwonar – do you play Kickapoo in a loop?

  44. @KickAss

     I’d have to agree with Spoons on the subscriber thing. I subscribed to Thor and NA and it was a crap shoot as to when I would recieve my books. Mostly they were 3-5 days late, sometimes more than that. I renewed my NA subscriptionand I never recieved my NA #51. The price is very nice, but if you need to have your books on Wed, I wouldnt recommend subscription.

  45. IDK if this has been mentioned earlier, but I think baby james is with Jim’s first wife.

  46. @chino/xander

    Since we must live within ~5 miles of each other care to share what the good comic shop is?

    I know which store you are talking about, BTW. They’re not my regular but I’ve been in there before. Nice guy, good selection, good discount, but too grungy. I go to Treasure Island comics in Fremont.  

  47. @miyamatofreak

    I live in the Fremont/ Union City area and commute to work in Alameda, so I try to find comic shops near that route.  With that said, the only good comic stores are: Crush Comics (San Leandro) and Treasure Island.  If you go further down to Milpitas, there’s a little shop called Black Cat Comics.  It may be a small store but the owners are extremely friendly.  It’s a mom and pop store (they’re in their 30’s) and they are very involved with the community.  I used to shop there when I used to live in Milpitas.     

    Lee’s Comics is great but they’re too far (and I don’t want to pay $4 for the bridge).  Their store is well-stocked and they carry all sorts of Indy books.   Books from the other 3 stores that I mentioned sell out pretty quickly because the owners try not to overstock their books.  You either have to shop on Wed or have a pull-list to get all your books.

    I want to check out Hijinx (at San Jose) and Isotope (at SF).  They’re way too far for me to shop there regularly, but I hear great things about them from the internet. 

  48. @chinochang: When you’re in the Alameda area, I would highly recommend checking out Dr Comics & Mr Games on Piedmont Ave in Oakland and Comic Relief on Shattuck Ave in Berkeley. Both of those shops are pretty well-stocked with tons of back issues and trades. Comic Relief is my own local store and they have damn near everything you could ever want from superheroes to indies to manga to all ages books to art books to adult stuff and everything in between.


    Lee’s Comics is great. I used to shop down there when I would visit friends in the South Bay. There’s also Comics Conspiracy in Sunnyvale, they’re pretty good and just had a total remodel so the place is less dark and cramped and cave-like than it used to be back when I first started going there.


    And the Isotope is just plain awesome. Definitely check out their parties to get an idea of what people are really raving about, they have them about once a month or so. The convention after parties during WonderCon and APE are truly the stuff of legend.

  49. Lee’s Comics was kinda my first store. Only bought like one thing from them (Marvel Knights Spider-man #4) but still.

    Comic Relief is indeed massive. I’ll probably go to Isotope sometime I’m in SF. I don’t have too much to complain about with my current LCS. Just wish the pull discount was a bit higher and they stocked more indy stuff. Actually in general, I wish they had more stock (back issues included) but then I guess they would never make any cash. 

    Also I’ve heard nothing but great things about Comics Conspiracy (hell even the owner of Isotope calls it his shop) and one of the podcasts I listen to is recorded there. I hear their back issue selection is the best in the Bay. 

  50. @kenkneisel and miyamotofreak:

     Thanks a bunch!  I will definitely give your recommendations a shot!


  51. Who cares where Jim Gordon, Jr went? What I want to know is where in the Hell is the beast’s pet dog, Sassafrass, who was a regular in Th New defenders, survived the death of half the team in issue 152, then was never seen again!

  52. Thanks for the well-thought out response, Ron.  You’ve convinced me to at least ride out the first arc and see where it goes.  Having never actually seen Lost, I don’t really get the comparison, but we’ll see how the story and charcaters develop and see what Jeff Parker can do with it. 

  53. @Xander – Sorry if it seems like I’m beating a dead horse at this point, but I have to agree – go at a different time. Since you have a pull list, there is no real urgency in getting to the shop every week. If you want to "participate" in the whole internet thing, just don’t read anything that’ll spoil your books for you. Hell, any "big" news is usually on the net or – if big enough – in the papers that Wed. morning anyway. I still look to see what the POW is even if I haven’t made it to the shop and the guys are usually good in the reviews about not spoiling anything that lessens my enjoyment of the book.

  54. I’m old and it still rankles with me that Babs was ‘demoted’ to niece status, post-Crisis. Pre-Crisis she had a brother, Tony, the Great Bob Rozakis provides some info on him in the second letter here:

    I think I recall him only from a mention in a fun issue of Adventure in which, a la most Justice League members, she had a childhood encounter with Superboy (the future Smallville producers must have been paying attention), but I could be wrong, it’s years since I read this:

    As for Xander’s problem, yes indeedy, what’s the problem – get in, go to the counter, stare dourly at friendly staff, collect comics, go. Heavens, I’d love to go to a comic shop where people chatted comics – I can barely conceive of such a thing.

  55. My super power – I kill any conversation . ..

  56. @Mart: Get your own superpower you copycat 🙂

    This could start a whole thread of comic fans vs D&D fans (and the copycats) if we wanted that.

  57. By responding, I prove your powers have gone. Soz!

  58. @Mart: nooooo! Now I have nothing to show for on this site!

    Damn you….and such…..(I cant make a snarky remark anymore)….

  59. @kenkneisel

    I can neither confirm nor deny … Isotopes is cool cause I found some 2000AD stuff I did not see anywhere else, even in the subarbs.  I think I will go to all … I’ve been buying up a lot of stuff. 🙂